Soccer: WJ’s next great school event

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Players on the boys’ soccer team congratulate each after scoring a goal in a 3-1 win against Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School on September 13. Photo courtesy of WJ Athletics.

Owen Krucoff, Editor-in-Chief

Fall Friday nights at high schools around the country are centered around the school football team. Home games are packed with people from all over the local community, but at our school, it is clear that football just isn’t what our school is best suited for as a spirited athletic spectacle. Many WJ students who attend the games either know little about how football works or spend their time focusing on their friends and phones rather than the game itself. Those who do show up for the competition witness our usual lack of on-field success. It honestly feels at games and around school as if our level of football interest just isn’t that high. If we made soccer games our marquee sporting event of the school year, we would have a more enjoyable and engaging experience for the entire student body.

The main drawbacks that keep students from attending football games are lack of knowledge of the sport and simply not wanting to witness a heavy loss most weeks. Soccer solves these problems because as a simple, globally popular sport, more WJ students are able to understand and get into it than football. This includes many minority and ESOL students that may be less likely to attend traditional spirit events such as football games. Furthermore, our boys’ and girls’ soccer teams are both regionally ranked state title contenders that play lively, competitive games against local rivals, attracting students who shy away from football based on futility. The students who do attend football games would still attend soccer games because they often are more interested in the spirit and social aspects of the event than the game itself. If we promoted soccer games the way we currently promote football games, it would be essentially the same to them.

The other advantage soccer has over football is its appeal to the entire WJ community. The DC area is one of America’s premier hotbeds for soccer interest and participation, and the families in our neighborhoods are largely more attracted to it than football. For most students in our cluster, high school football has no appeal until it becomes a major social event upon arrival at WJ. These kids and their families would be more likely to get involved in soccer since it is already more prevalent in their daily lives.

The obvious obstacle with promoting soccer is the game schedule. The biggest reason football is the spectacle it is is because it is on Friday nights, which soccer just doesn’t have. Unless this changes, it would be difficult to fully elevate soccer, but we can still work with what we have. Imagine a larger, more diverse student section at sporting events, with many more students from all walks of life filling the rest of the stands. Imagine countless elementary and middle school soccer players and their parents showing up to watch their high school heroes chase a state title. Imagine all the songs and chants soccer lends itself to that the crowd, band and cheerleaders could perform as one. By making soccer our most hyped and emphasized school sport, we are opening a whole new realm of WJ spirit and togetherness.

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